Thursday, March 1, 2007

Widows by the Thousand: The Civil War Correspondence of Theophilus and Harriet Perry, 1862–1864

Edited by M. Jane Johansson

From the publisher:
This collection of letters written between Theophilus and Harriet Perry during the Civil War provides an intimate, firsthand account of the effect of the war on one young couple. Perry was an officer with the 28th Texas Cavalry, a unit that campaigned in Arkansas and Louisiana as part of the division known as “Walker’s Greyhounds.” His letters describe his service in a highly literate style that is unusual for Confederate accounts. He documents a number of important events, including his experiences as a detached officer in Arkansas in the winter of 1862–63, the attempt to relieve the siege of Vicksburg, mutiny in his regiment, and the Red River campaign, just before he was killed in the battle of Pleasant Hill.

Harriet’s writings allow the reader to witness the everyday life of an upper-class woman enduring home front deprivations, facing the hardships and fears of childbearing and childrearing alone, and coping with other challenges resulting from her husband’s absence.

“This is a collection that offers much more than many others. . . . Harriet’s eulogy for her husband is quite moving and provides an emotional reading for a visit into the relationship of a Confederate officer and his wife that has rarely been available.” — Civil War News

“Not only have fewer collections of married couples of the Confederacy been published, but those of couples living in the westernmost regions of the Trans-Mississippi Theater are scarcer still. . . . Harriet’s frank discussion of sexuality and reproduction, topics mid-19th century female correspondents rarely address, are remarkable for this era.” — Civil War Book Review

M. Jane Johansson is an associate professor of history at Rogers State University. She is the author of Peculiar Honor: A History of the 28th Texas Calvary, 1862–1865 (University of Arkansas Press), winner of the Ottis Lock Award for the Best Book on East Texas History, and a coeditor of two volumes of The Papers of Will Rogers